Paella problem

Authentic “Paella"

Made a paella this evening, using my usual technique, but when we came to eat it, it didn’t taste quite right. Couldn’t quite put my finger on it and then I remembered that I hadn’t added any stock to the dish. I had just used some water. I was quite surprised by how much the stock added, and how different the paella was when it was missing.

Rice with Chorizo

I diced a red onion and a red pepper. 

In a hot large frying pan, I put some olive oil and I cooked off some smoked pancetta bacon. 

I then added the diced onion and pepper. When this was softened, I added 250g of paella rice. I ensured that this was then coated with the peppers and onions in the pan. I let this cook for a minute or so before adding a jar of paella paste from Waitrose. 

After stirring in the paste I added some chicken stock. Stirred once and left it to cook.

Before serving I added some chopped fresh parsley and some cooked sliced chorizo.

Authentic “Paella”

Having upset Spain with my last paella, sorry Spanish inspired rice dish, I decided that the next time I cooked a Spanish inspired rice dish I would follow (at least) some of the unwritten rules of paella.

The end result I think looked quite authentic.

Authentic “Paella"

In preparation I diced a red onion, yellow pepper, and red pepper. 

In a hot large frying pan, I put some olive oil and I cooked off some smoked pancetta bacon. This isn’t in the list of ingredients in the unwritten rules of paella, so broke one rule there.

I then added the diced onion and pepper. When this was softened, I added 250g of paella rice. I ensured that this was then coated with the peppers and onions in the pan. I let this cook for a minute or so before adding a jar of paella paste from Waitrose. So another rule broken.

After stirring in the paste I added some chicken stock. Stirred once and left it to cook.

No prawns, no chorizo, just rice. Also no chicken either!

The unwritten rules of paella

paella

The Guardian reports on how researchers in Valencia have decided what ten ingredients you can use in paella are.

The ten permitted ingredients are: rice, water, olive oil, salt, saffron, tomato, flat green beans, lima beans, chicken and rabbit. 

Note that there is no fish or shellfish. Ever!

The research was carried out by social scientists at the Universidad Católica de Valencia at the instigation of local chef Rafael Vidal. The researchers questioned 400 amateur chefs aged over 50 from 266 Valencian villages.

Now I like making paella inspired rice dishes that include chorizo and seafood, even though this sometimes upsets Spaniards.

The article talks about how the valencianos believe that only they know how to make paella.  

To people in Valencia, their version of paella is the version and nothing else is worthy of the name. 

As for other kinds of paella they think this isn’t paella.

The typical seafood paella encountered elsewhere in Spain is generally dismissed by valencianos as arroz con cosas (rice with things).

So I cook rice with things….

Not very impressed

Noticed on the Twitter that my tweet of my Instagram photo of my rice dish had been noticed by quite a few people from Spain. They were, to say the least, not very impressed.

Best comment so far…

“I have seen rice that would make a goat vomit.”

This one made me chuckle

“if it doesn’t have pineapple, it’s not paella”

Time for a Spanish inspired rice dish

paella

Well we call this paella, but I know it isn’t paella, but it was inspired by paella.

This is a regular dish in our household and this pan of paella was finished off at dinner time.

What goes into the pan, depends on what we have in the house and whether I have been shopping or not. If I am out of the shops knowing that I am going to cook paella, then I will probably buy some cooking chorizo, some squid, and maybe even other kinds of seafood such as langoustine or clams. This time was what we had in the house.

This serves about four people

In preparation I diced a red onion and a large pepper. Well actually I diced half a red pepper and half an orange pepper.

In a hot large frying pan, I put some olive oil and I cooked off some smoked pancetta bacon and a small amount of diced (dry) chorizo. I then added the diced onion and pepper. When this was softened, I added 250g of paella rice. I ensured that this was then coated with the peppers and onions in the pan. I let this cook for a minute or so before adding a splash of white wine (we had that in the fridge). Recently I have been using some Spanish sherry I got from Aldi for Christmas, but that was all finished off the last time I did paella, sorry Spanish inspired rice.

I then (cheated and) added a jar of paella paste from Waitrose. In the past I have used herbs, spices and saffron when making paella, however I do like the jar that Waitrose do as it does taste quite authentic and is quick and easy. Tesco use to do a sachet of paella herbs and spices, but they’ve stopped selling that now. I use to prefer that. 

After stirring in the paste I added some chicken stock. Last time I did paella I used a fish stock, but didn’t have any of that in the cupboard.

Stir once and then leave. 

I once got “told off” by a Spaniard for stirring my paella, so now I just as advised, leave it to cook.

In a separate pan I cooked off the remaining dried chorizo I had sliced, I also added some sliced linguiça sausage from Lidl I had picked in their Iberian week recently. In previous Spanish themed weeks Lidl have done some nice cooking chorizo which I have liked using in my paella dishes. This time though in their most recent week they didn’t do it, hence picking up the linguiça sausage. Not quite a replacement, but worked well with the paella.

We had some cooked prawns in the fridge, so I warmed them up in a pan with some olive oil and mixed herbs.

The prawns, chorizo and lemon slices were added to the top of the paella, with some chopped flat leaf parsley and served.

Overall, delicious.

Time for some seafood paella

I was thinking about some lunch so I made my way to St Nicholas Market in the heart of Bristol. I did consider getting some barbecue from Low and Slow, but they had a really big queue. In the end I headed to La Lola with a plan to try their paella. When I got there I was nearly swayed by the calamari, but said to myself that I was going to have the paella, so I ordered the seafood paella.

The staff were friendly and welcoming, and I took a seat by the window and waited for my food.

It arrived just a few minutes later, it looked great and was a decent sized portion as well. I only wish when eating in that La Lola would serve their food on plates (or in bowls).

seafood paella

At first, I did think there wasn’t much seafood, but as I dug into the rice there were prawns, mussels and squid. I did like the taste of the paella, which was delicious, though I did think it could have had less salt. There was a whole prawn in the dish which needed to be shelled, but they did provide a lemon wipe which meant it was less messy than it could have been.

As I ate three Spanish women came and sat down on the chairs next to me and started talking to each other in Spanish. I did think if Spanish people were eating here then the food must be pretty authentic. I know the staff are Spanish, but with Spanish clientele as well, they must be doing something right.

Will I visit again, of course.

Paella

paella

Though I have been told that what I cook and call paella is not paella, in our house we call it paella. Outside the house, this is a Spanish inspired rice dish!

First I cook off some diced bacon (usually pancetta) in a large frying pan, or if I am cooking a lot in my large paella pan. I then take some chopped mushroom, onions and pepper and add that to the pan. Once the onions have softened I add the paella rice and ensure it is coated with the cooking oil and liquid. I always use a specialist paella rice in my paella dishes these days. To this I added a dry paella mix from Tesco. I also like the jar from Waitrose that you can get. Occasionally these days I will use saffron and my own selection of herbs and spices.

I then add fish or chicken stock to the pan, to cover the rice and then leave to cook. As I was told by a Spanish friend, don’t stir it (unlike risotto which you do).

Add some sliced chunks of lemon. I usually cook the fish (in this case just prawns) and chorizo in separate pans and add to the paella just before serving.

Time for (an old) paella

Back in December 2016 I made a paella. I cooked the dish with rice,  chorizo, langoustine, squid and prawns. The langoustine added an element of luxury to the dish, but it was all very tasty.

Probably the most authentic paella I have cooked

I cook paella quite a bit, though I have been told what I cook usually isn’t paella, but a rice dish!

This time I wasn’t even trying, however the end result was rather good. I admit I cheated slightly and used a Waitrose Paella Paste jar, but I think I got the cooking right as the taste and texture was reminiscent of the excellent paella I had from Riceminster last week.

It was towards the end of the month, so the fridge needed restocking and there wasn’t too much in the cupboards. I had decided to cook some cod croquettes, salmon and serve it with rice. However we didn’t have any plain (well basmati) rice left, but I did have some paella rice. I also had a jar of Waitrose Paella Paste.

I quite like the jar and when I have used it in the past it has worked well, never quite authentic, but still tasty.

As I said there wasn’t too much in the fridge, so in a large frying pan, I cooked some smoked bacon (pancetta) and a chopped red onion. I would usually use some peppers and mushrooms, but there was none in the fridge. I did check to see if I had a tin of beans I could use, but though I had tinned lentils and kidney beans, there was nothing else.

Once the onions were softened, I added the paella rice and stirred the rice around until mixed in with the onions and bacon. I then added the Waitrose Paella Paste and stirred that in.

I then added chicken stock, made using a Knorr Chicken Stock Pot, covering all the rice. I then stirred and then left alone. Well not quite, as I added some frozen peas about 10 minutes later.

I once got “told off” for stirring my paella, so now I just as advised leave it to cook.

I think what I did this time however, was not to add further stock and just let the paella cook turning down the heat slightly as the stock reduced. I did think I should add more stock, but left it alone.

I served it up and I did like how it came out. I had mine with cod croquettes and salad.

paella

As for the taste and texture it was very similar to the paella I had from the Temple Quay market from Riceminster and those I have had in Spain. I think this was one of the best paella dishes I have cooked, certainly one of the most authentic tasting.